Wanted Juric will score anywhere, says former mentor

Australia striker Tomi Juric has the firepower and fortitude to play in one of Europe's big leagues, according to the coach who handed him his second coming on the Continent.

Tomi Juric

Tomi Juric in action for Australia Source: Getty Images

Newly hired Wellington Phoenix mentor Darije Kalezic recruited Juric to the Eredivisie in mid-2015 when he was in charge at newly-promoted JC Roda.

As speculation mounts of a Bundesliga move for his former protege, the Bosnian-Swiss says he has little doubt the 26 year old is ready "to take the next step".

There are at least three European clubs - two from Germany - vying to sign the Luzern striker before the transfer window closes at the end of this month.

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And Kalezic is not surprised by the interest in a player he says has the gift for goals.

"I think he can make a higher step, so long as he stays fit and consistent at the level he's now at," said Kalezic.

"He has quality to do that and to do well in one of the top European leagues (whether the Bundesliga or elsewhere).

"When he was with me at Roda I spent time preparing him for a bigger step, and maybe that will happen soon for him.

Kalezic believes Juric's eye for the back of the net makes him a very desirable target for clubs in search of a striker. 

"His main quality is simple: he's a goal getter.

"He has a smell for goals and a good feeling to be in the right place at the right time.

"He doesn't need many chances to find the net.

"I believe wherever he scores he will score goals, no matter what the level."

Luzern are reluctant to lose Juric, who has a year left on his contract with an option for a further season in the Swiss Super League.

But ambition is driving his desire to test himself on one of Europe's main stages and the prospect of an imminent switch remains very real for the hit-man who has struck seven goals in his last 10 games for club and country.



Kalezic says Juric's mental strength compliments his physical attributes and will be key to fast tracking his future.

"Tomi is a strong guy, mentally and physically," he added.

"He will develop physically even more and in his time at Roda he gave me a really good feeling about his personality.

"His focus is excellent and that will get him achieve what he wants to achieve."

When the former Western Sydney Wanderers forward arrived at Roda, it was his second crack at Europe after a three-club stint in the land of his lineage, Croatia.

He wasn't fully fit after a near five-month hiatus and had a tendency to suffer niggling injuries.

Kalezic made it his mission to turn him into an imposing specimen able to withstand the buffeting of top flight football.

"He came to Holland not in the best physical shape after such a long break but you could see his quality and I was happy to sign him," said Kalezic.

"He had good reputation in Australia but we needed to do a lot of work ... he came just a week before the start of the season and I knew it was a battle against the clock to make him fit.

"The season confirmed that and maybe after a few weeks he got a knee issue.



"But things changed in time and after a camp with the Australian national team we got a medical report back, and they were surprised how fit he was.

"They'd not seen him in such top condition before and that was a really good sign.

"My point is that if Tomi can keep maintaining his physical side then he can get to where he wants to go."


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4 min read
Published 17 August 2017 at 9:07pm
By Dave Lewis